|dc.description.abstract||This thesis examines draft-avoidance in the context of contemporary Russia. The objective of the research is to shed light on army-avoiders' views and reflections, not only for a better understanding of the issue of the conscription crisis, but also to provide insights into the transition from the Soviet to the Russian era and how young men negotiate and relate to processes of social change. To meet this objective, the study draws on nine qualitative interviews with young Russian men. As a conceptual framework for analysis, the study uses a gender perspective, especially masculinity. The term empowerment, including the supplementary categories of identity, agency and critical consciousness, has been chosen as a theoretical lens to further illuminate the interviewees' views on conscription and experiences of draft-avoidance.
The study findings indicate that the interviewees wished to avoid the draft because they viewed the conscription system and military service as disempowering, as well as contradictory to their personal life aspirations. The findings also suggest that emerging masculinity notions and values integral to market capitalism contribute to empowering self-identifications, and thus play an important role in the process of draft-avoidance. Moreover, the findings indicate that draft-avoidance can be seen as a manifestation of the interviewees' ability to act as reflective and critical social agents who seek to actively direct their own lives. Furthermore, draft-avoidance appeared to be the interviewees' way of managing the contradictory challenges and expectations that the individual meets in a transitional society.
Analytically, the study brings evidence to the on-going debate that there is coexistence of change and continuity, and that in a transitional period, namely this can create tensions and conflicts, which the deepening crisis of the conscription system and growing draft-avoidance in Russia are an example of.
Key words: agency, continuity, critical consciousness, draft-avoidance, empowerement, identity, military service, masculinity, social change||en_US